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Cosmopolitanism, assignment duration, and expatriate adjustment: The trade-off between well-being and performance


  • Amir Grinstein

    (Guilford Glazer School of Business and Management, Ben Gurion University of the Negev)

  • Luc Wathieu

    (ESMT European School of Management and Technology)


This paper questions the notion that expatriates should adjust to their host country, by showing that adjustment and its consequences are affected by cosmopolitanism and expected assignment duration. A study of 260 expatriates in the U.S. reveals that cosmopolitans expecting shorter (longer) assignments adjust more (less) to both work and non-work aspects of their host country, and that this is associated with increased well-being. In contrast, for non-cosmopolitans, more well-being occurs when longer (shorter) expected assignments are accompanied by increased (decreased) work and non-work adjustment. Further, from the findings emerges a clash between two aspects of successful expatriation - well-being and professional success: while non-work adjustment is not always associated with well-being, work adjustment is positively related to assignment performance across conditions and subjects.

Suggested Citation

  • Amir Grinstein & Luc Wathieu, 2008. "Cosmopolitanism, assignment duration, and expatriate adjustment: The trade-off between well-being and performance," ESMT Research Working Papers ESMT-08-011, ESMT European School of Management and Technology.
  • Handle: RePEc:esm:wpaper:esmt-08-011

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    File Function: First version, 2008
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Edward L. Glaeser & David I. Laibson & José A. Scheinkman & Christine L. Soutter, 2000. "Measuring Trust," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 811-846.
      • Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    2. Cullen, John B. & Johnson, Jean L. & Sakano, Tomoaki, 2000. "Success through commitment and trust: the soft side of strategic alliance management," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 223-240.
    3. Ariño, Africa & de la Torre, Jose & Ring, Peter S., 2001. "Relational quality: Managing trust in corporate alliances," IESE Research Papers D/434, IESE Business School.
    4. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Expatriates; international assignment; cosmopolitanism; crossculture adjustment; multinational corporations; preference persistence; assignment duration; survey method;

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights

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